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Build a Home Sweet Home in Norwich at the festival

PUBLISHED: 16:00 11 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:23 01 July 2010

Home Sweet Home: the cardboard city.

Home Sweet Home: the cardboard city.

Mary Hamilton

With a castle, a council and its own radio station, this miniature Norwich could almost be mistaken for the real thing.

But the city that will spring into life at Blackfriars Hall this weekend will be a cardboard creation crafted by the people of Norwich.

With a castle, a council and its own radio station, this miniature Norwich could almost be mistaken for the real thing.

But the city that will spring into life at Blackfriars Hall this weekend will be a cardboard creation crafted by the people of Norwich.

And with neighbours jostling for space, working together for services and building their own communities, the evolution of Home Sweet Home could make for a very eventful weekend.

The event, which is sponsored by the Evening News, is a cross between a performance, an exhibition and an activity day, beginning with people of all ages being invited to create their own house in the city.

Starter homes are free, giving you a simple cardboard house and a small plot marked out on the white canvas city grid.

Spending between £1 and £3 will get you an upgrade to a nicer house, a larger plot or a better part of the city - or a houseboat, shop or business unit.

The organisers provide all sorts of materials to help new residents of Norwich's smallest suburb decorate their properties, and people can bring along anything they like to add a personal touch to their creations.

A cardboard castle and city hall will already be in place, and the Evening News will be setting up a miniature cardboard Prospect House, but it will be up to visitors to decide whether to recreate Norwich's cathedrals, hospital, green spaces or malls - and people are free to invent, build and decorate their own additions to the city.

“It's up to people how to decorate their houses and what they want to build,” said Lucy Hayhoe, co-director of Subject to Change who are organising the performance.

“We provide the infrastructure - the blank canvas with the city mapped out on it, street lights, the council, the postman and so on - and then people make their own neighbourhoods.”

Similar performances have taken place at galleries and halls in London, Brighton and the Edinburgh Festival, where residents who could not fit within the strict city plots banded together and built a tower block.

“The people who lived nearby were furious about it and went to the council to protest,” said Ms Hayhoe. “They got signatures on a petition that they put on the notice board and more people were against the block than for it, so it was demolished.”

In the past, people have built zombie shelters, houses made from gummy sweets, brothels, crack dens, community gardens, pirate ships and more.

“We try to dictate as little as possible of what might happen,” said Ms Hayhoe. “With the help of the radio station run by Future Radios, the notice board to keep people informed and the postman bringing letters, people will get really involved with each other and start to build their own communities.

“We hope that it will evolve naturally into something amazing.”

Home Sweet Home takes place from 11am to 7pm from May 15 to May 17 at Blackfriars Hall and is free to get involved. On the final night there is a garden party for residents.

You can visit the Evening News headquarters and send us letters at Home Sweet Home from May 15 onwards.

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